Rep. Austin Scott, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture, held a public hearing to review the impact of enforcement activities by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on specialty crop growers. Specifically, Subcommittee Members addressed growing concerns that DOL is using the "Hot Goods" provision under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) in an arbitrary manner against producers of perishable agricultural commodities without regard for the inevitable destruction of the product and significant economic hardship inflicted on farmers and their employees.
France Approves U.S. Genetically Modified Corn Imports
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Bob Smith (R-OR) today announced that France has formally approved the sale of genetically modified corn to the European Union (EU) safegaurding a $200 million-plus market for American corn growers.
In letters to United States Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, Smith and six other Members of Congress urged the Administration to promptly inform U.S. exporters of this approval so that U.S. corn can be sold to Spain. In 1997, Spain and Portugal imported one million metric tons of U.S. corn, but have been unable to participate in this year's sales due to the delay in approval of genetically modified corn varieties by the EU. Under European Union rules, France's approval was required before the corn could be sold to any of the EU's fifteen member states
"Access to the Spanish market by the U.S. was negotiated as compensation to the U.S. for the accession of Spain to the EU, where the U.S. had developed a substantial corn market. The compensation provided then was necessary to preserve our agricultural trade," the Members wrote. "That trade is needed even more today."
"We are requesting that you do all that is needed to fully inform U.S. exporters of the approval of the corn varieties," the Members wrote. "In addition, we request that you provide whatever assistance is needed to meet any possible EU requirements and thereby ensure sales of U.S. corn to Spain."
"I'm pleased that France has finally signaled its approval of U.S. corn imports to the EU. The Spanish market is too valuable to American farmers to lose, and this experience demonstrates the need to continuing working with our trade partners to knock down non-tariff barriers to U.S. imports," Smith added.
This month, Smith will lead a congressional trade delegation to Spain, Italy, and Egypt to push for further reductions in non-tariff trade barriers and to increase markets for U.S. agricultural products.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District —which includes most of eastern, southern, and central Oregon — in the U.S. House of Representatives.